It was in early 2010 — way back near the dawn of time — when former Little Rock (Arkansas) resident Brenda Burns turned international jetsetter and bonafide real estate baller Bren Simon first hoisted her gigantic Bel Air Country Club-fronting mansion up on the market with an unabashedly ballsy $50,000,000 pricetag.
Well, it took more than six years, multiple price chops, and a lot of time spent on and off the MLS, but the property has finally sold. Records reveal the sale closed in mid-June (2016) for $34,928,500, not far off the last ask of $37.5 million. It’s also, according to Yolanda’s tabulations, one of only three LA-area homes that have transferred for more than $30 million this year. So far.
Despite the huge sale price, you’ll need to sit yourselves down because your gurl’s research suggests that Mrs. Simon actually took a significant loss on the sale of this house.
Back in 2006, Mrs. Simon and her late hubby (billionaire shopping mall magnate Melvin Simon) slammed down $27,500,000 for the .78-acre parcel on which the 20,000-square-foot behemoth rests. Less than a year later, the Simons baller-style paid another $8,800,000 for the much less impressive home next door, which they razed and replaced with a parking lot and a big patch of grass. That’s a total of $36,300,000 for the land alone, but that doesn’t count the millions that without a doubt were invested into the construction, renovations, and all the other work that was done. We wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Mrs. Simon sunk more than $40 million into this place.
The new owner of the two-parcel, 1.44-acre estate compound is obscured behind an entity called “Masterpiece LLC” that leads down a dead-end road to an LA law office, but our gurl at the Wall Street Journal quoted the buyer’s real estate agent who said that the anonymous buyer is a “local businessman”. Well, Yolanda can now tell y’all that said local businessman is a low-profile but mega-rich guy named Robert H. Blumenfield, owner of The Roberts Companies. And he is most certainly very local indeed.
Mr. Blumenfield, who is most widely-known as one of the world’s foremost collectors of East Asian artifacts, made most — if not all — of his tremendous fortune through owning and renting out hundreds of apartments throughout LA. And he has long resided in Bel Air. Just a couple minutes’ drive away from the former Simon mansion he just bought, in fact. Way back in 1998, Mr. Blumenfield threw down $4,000,000 for a 7,017-square-foot house with 6 bedrooms and bathrooms on a hillside lot with sweeping views of the cityscape and the sea beyond. That house happens to be on the very same street as the house that Nigerian magnate Kola Aluko just dumped off-market at a multi-million dollar loss. For what it’s worth.
We don’t have any photos of Mr. Blumenfield’s current home in Bel Air, for those of you who might be interested, but we do have a video that was filmed in the modern-ish-style house (starring Mr. Blumenfield) as a sort of advertisement for a portion of his massive art collection. So you can get a feel for the property, which we expect will be available for sale sometime soon, if not sold off-market.
But we digress. Mrs. Simon’s former and Mr. Blumenfield’s new mansion in Bel Air has 9 bedrooms and an incontinence-style 16 bathrooms within its approximately 20,000 Italianate square feet of living space. The completely walled and gated (and heavily secured) property has not one, not two, but three separate gated entrances along curvy Bellagio Road.
Rooms are grandly proportioned and include a ballroom-sized living room, a library, a billiard room, and perhaps one of the swankiest-looking home theaters we’ve ever laid our beautiful eyes on. The 2,000 square foot upstairs master suite has a giant bedroom/sitting room combo (not shown in listing photos) and an indoor hot tub with gold leaf trim (or at least we like to imagine it’s gold leaf. And knowing how rich the Simons are, it probably is.)
The resort-style grounds encompass an outdoor covered loggia, lots of formal gardens, a large patch or two of grass, fountains, and a swimming pool and spa that are jammed a wee bit too close to the monster mansion, we think. There’s also a car collector-sized underground warehouse, er, garage.
Unfortunately, the property does not sport a tennis court. Were Yolanda looking to spend $35 million on a significant estate in Bel Air, that missing feature would kinda be a deal breaker. But that’s just us. And hey, there’s loads of space indoors for Mr. Blumenfield to store his constantly-expanding art collection.
We’ve already written extensively about Mrs. Simon’s numerous real estate holdings (see our previous post), so we won’t dive in too deep here. But we will say that Mrs. Simon was once one of the world’s biggest real estate ballers. No joke!
But in recent years, as she approaches her mid-70s, our lady has been looking to slim down her portfolio. Though she and/or her late hubby once owned vast residences in Palm Beach, Washington D.C., London, Manhattan, Aspen, Hidden Valley, and Bel Air, the only personal residences Yolanda is aware of Mrs. Simon claiming today are her new $10.7 million house in Santa Monica, her 10,000-square-foot Aspen ski chalet, and the monstrous 50,000+ square foot mega-mansion in Carmel, Indiana that’s served as the longtime Simon family seat. That shopping mall — it’s a bit too large to be termed a private home, we think — was on the market a couple years ago for $25 million.